Red Hat Summit 2014: Open Source at the Forefront of IT

For Red Hat, one of the keystones of the open source community as well as one of its most sound success cases, the recent summit that took place in California was special in many instances. It marked the 10th anniversary of the Red Hat Summit and the celebration of a company that has for more than 20 years been a key contributor, consolidator, and promoter of open source technology in the enterprise, and is now a key player in the software and IT industry in general.

In fact, perhaps some of what was announced in this summit can be seen as marking an important milestone with how platforms and applications are deployed and consumed, and how new and existing offerings are adapting to current realities in the software industry.

Here is a brief summary of what happened at Red Hat’s main event of the year.

Red Hat’s “Advance”
The focus and themes of the Red Hat Summit were well presented in Jim Whitehurst’s keynote. Delivering an interesting and illustrative speech, the CEO and president of Red Hat made it clear that the company is still heavily committed to the advancement of IT and open source communities, understanding that getting the highest value from IT only comes with the development of strong IT ecosystems, many times formed with offerings from a variety of providers and partners.

Of course this included a commitment with the open source community and the adoption of open standards as part of Red Hat’s continuing path to deliver enterprise IT services for the business community.

Whitehurst gave some hints of what later would be detailed in keynotes delivered by Brian Stevens and Paul Cormier—Red Hat’s CTO and president of products and technologies respectively, and Deepak Advani—general manager of cloud and smarter infrastructure from IBM, such as a recent collaboration with IBM to reinforce and maintain the adoption of Red Hat technologies within IBM’s systems such as IBM’s PureSystems stack, as well as ensuring the adoption of open standards and commitment to the development of and its cloud operating system.

With the main topic of the keynote being “advance” Jim Whitehurst made it clear how for the open source company, despite technology advancing at an outrageous pace, it is not the only driver of innovation; innovation is also about systems, processes, and culture.
It was no surprise that Whitehurst also talked about technology trends, as all keynotes in the IT industry eventually land on common topics such as cloud, mobile, big data, collaboration and others, but what made Mr. Whitehurst’s keynote so interesting was the fact that he outlined how Red Hat is preparing for the shift in consumption of IT, such as how the company will help customers to consume technology around all the previous paradigms, especially through Linux Container’s new features, and partnerships with innovative companies such as Docker for improving software delivery and consumption.
Red Hat is Being Serious About the Industrialization of IT
A number of interesting innovations and advances represent an important shift in the way Red Hat is working towards industrializing IT, through easing the overall process of configuring and controlling IT deployments. Two announcements came to the forefront at the summit regarding this topic:
  1. A key expansion to Red Hat’s partnership with Docker, an innovative provider of virtualized application environments, brings container and application portability technologies to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Platform, providing interoperability between Docker’s services and Red Hat’s certified container hosts and services.   
  2. New advances to the Linux Container segment will allow delivery of streamlined applications and orchestration across multiple machines, from physical equipment to private and public clouds, via two community projects and an expansion to Red Hat Enterprise Linux:
    1. Project Atomic—a community project to develop Linux light container hosts.
    2. GearD—a community project to enable rapid application development and integration products via Linux Containers.
    3. The High-Touch Beta Program to expand Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 to include Red Hat Enterprise Linux Host and Docker container technologies.
Red Hat knows that being a successful vehicle for the industrialization of IT means that its product stack will have to necessarily and steadily evolve to provide customers with the means for ensuring application portability (to lower costs both in deployment and maintenance), as well as guarantee enterprise readiness of all of its product stack, something Red Hat has successfully done in the past with Linux.
Red Hat Continues to Build a Strong Partner Ecosystem
Red Hat takes the smart view of seeing its own platform as a central player in the IT spectrum, but the company is also aware of being part of an ecosystem that is fast evolving and in which Red Hat needs to quickly adapt. Red Hat has worked to build and maintain important partnerships that can potentially bring many benefits for the company, such as:
  • The agreement signed with Google that will enable Red Hat customers to move Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions to the Google Compute Engine using Red Hat Cloud Access, adding flexibility of migration and movement in the cloud, important news for those working heavily on Hybrid Cloud environments.
  • A partnership with Dell that includes the availability of co-engineered private cloud solutions based on OpenStack.
  • An agreement with SAP to bring three new infrastructure components to OpenShift, Red Hat’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering. These components include SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP ASE), SAP IQ and SAP SQL, all part of SAP’s Data Management portfolio.
Among other interesting news and events unveiled during the summit, one in particular that caught my attention was the announcement of the OpenShift Marketplace, which will enable users to try and find solutions for their cloud applications, putting Red Hat on par with other cloud providers offering cloud applications in market app format such as Amazon’s AWS and Rackspace, another component of the industrialization of IT.

A good conclusion for this article can be nicely put using Paul Cormier words, in the context of Red Hat’s view around the evolution of the enterprise IT industry:

As the cloud enters the computing mainstream, and applications, not infrastructure, become the focus of enterprise IT, the operating system takes on greater importance in supporting the application and the infrastructure, without sacrificing the basic requirements of security, stability, and manageability.

Red Hat seems to have a clear path towards achieving presence in the enterprise IT software market by strongly commoditizing its software offerings for enterprise consumption, something not always easy with open source-based software such as Linux.

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